By Craig Bohnert | June 03, 2016, 11:07 p.m. (ET)
Donnell Whittenburg competes on the rings during the Men's P&G Gymnastics Championships at the XL Center on June 3, 2016 in Hartford, Conn.


Donnell Whittenburg used a strong performance on still rings and top-10 finishes on five of six apparatuses to take the lead in Friday evening’s session, the first of two for the 2016 P&G Men’s Gymnastics Championships at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut.

Whittenburg’s score of 89.900 led the field, but by a whisker. Close on his heels with a score of 89.850 is 2012 Olympian Sam Mikulak, who is in search of a fourth consecutive national all-around title. Chris Brooks is third with 89.500, while Jake Dalton, also a 2012 Olympian, is fourth at 89.400.

Two other members of the London 2012 Olympic team, John Orozco and Danell Leyva, sit just outside the top 10. Orozco’s score of 87.400 put him in 11th, while Leyva is right behind in 12th with an 86.900.

Whittenburg’s 15.950 was the best rings score of the evening. He also had the fifth-best score in three other events – floor exercise, vault and high bar. Meanwhile, Mikulak had the best score on high bar (15.700) and three top-three results, but a 13.500 on floor kept him out of the lead.

Pursuing his first Olympic roster spot, Whittenburg is carrying momentum he gained at the Pacific Rim Championships in March, where he was part of the team gold medal and earned individual golds on rings and parallel bars, as well as silvers in the all-around and vault.

Men’s competition continues on Sunday beginning at 1 p.m. ET, when the men’s senior national champions will be crowned and the national team named. In addition, 18 men will advance from Hartford to the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Men’s Gymnastics, to be held June 23 and 25 in St. Louis.

The women’s gymnasts will take to the floor of the XL Center on Saturday to compete in the Secret U.S. Classic. Junior competition begins at 1 p.m., with the senior women starting at 7 p.m.